The common factor on each occasion was Kevin Shine. Last year was a little more demanding. Courtney Walsh was bowling and Shine was partnered by Jeremy Batty. This year, in tandem with Graham Rose, who dug in for the best part of two and a half hours, he saw out 37 desperate deliveries to salvage a draw from a match that had appeared to be lost following a dramatic collapse or two and some excellent swing bowling by Mike Smith and some guileful off-spin from Martyn Ball, who at one point had claimed three wickets in four balls and finished with an impressive 4 for 15 off 17 overs.
If Tony Wright at third slip had hung on to a catch from Mushtaq Ahmed off Shaun Young, it could have been a different story. Instead, the Pakistan leg-spinner lasted for a further 16 precious overs, and although Smith eventually accounted for Mushtaq and Andre van Troost, his 63rd victim of the summer, and Ball taking care of Steffan Jones, there were just not enough overs left to secure the victory that would have lifted Gloucestershire into joint leadership of the table.
Somerset had been set an improbable 277 to win off 45 overs after a couple of judicious declarations. Such contrivance at a result was a miracle in itself since the two captains, Mark Alleyne and Somerset's Peter Bowler, disagreed over which pitch to play on once the weather relented on the second day.
Gloucestershire won that brief battle, but there will be those who argue that it may have cost them the war. But at least they tried. Tim Hancock scored a classy century - the fourth of his career and his second against Somerset - which fairly sparkled with delightful drives and cuts. For Somerset, there were three wickets on his Championship debut for Jones, a Cambridge double Blue at cricket and rugby, as well as a fine innings from Mark Lathwell, who sadly perished five runs short of his first Championship hundred of the season.
But honours ultimately went to Somerset and in particular Shine and Rose. The latter is in the middle of a great season in which he has scored more than 500 first-class runs and has already taken 45 wickets. His defiance at one end while ineptitude reigned at the other was an example to all. Unfortunately, only Shine learned from it to help take the gloss out of Gloucestershire.Reuse content